Green initiatives, especially when it comes to interior elements such as lighting and furniture, often go well outside the box. The creativity of designers has recently been going into overdrive as the green ‘ubertrend’ finds its way into every industry sector.
However, pushing boundaries can divide interior designers as they straddle the line between concepts that are feasible and functional and concepts that portray complete design freedom.
One of these concepts by British artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey is definitely blurring the line between innovation and actualisation.
For nearly 20 years, the artistic duo has been transforming spaces with a very basic environmental element: grass.
In a 1992 installation the pair created in the National Theatre of the Palais du Chaillot in Paris, France, the underground passageways, stairs and rooms were seeded and completely covered in sprouting grasses and in some areas, ripened barley. Years later, in an installation at Dilston Grover in South East London, Ackroyd and Harvey reproduced the concept, completely fitting out a former church – which now functions as a gallery – with grass interiors.
The process involved plastering a clay-seed mix onto all of the interior elements, including walls, mouldings and window frames and allowing the natural process of growth to happen, aided by watering and sunlight.
While the fitout is artistically-driven, it brings to light the concept, perhaps in its truest form, of the built intermingling succinctly with the organic in order to re-engage with our natural environments.
“Bringing memory to the surface, the living skin of grass literally drew life back within the fabric of the church,” say the artists, who call it “a momentary resurrection.”
Could grass interiors become a commercial success? The concept may not be as outlandish as it initially seems. Interior design projects worldwide are adding green walls and many modern office spaces offer a ‘faux garden’ area for employees to relax inside, which leads to the possibility of turning the latter into real gardens. There are obvious functional drawbacks to grassy interiors, but there are always positive functional aspects as well, including the high insulation value of grass.
While grass fitouts may not be the next big thing in green building, they are certainly an interesting possibility. In re-engaging with our environments, we learn to respect them and not reject them. With all the benefits of potting plants in interior spaces, moving forward with implementing untamed wildlife inside might not seem like such a strange concept.